Israel has threatened Syria over alleged deployment of forces within the Golan Heights’ buffer zone in a new escalation between the arch foes.
On May 3, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) dropped leaflets over the Syrian-held part of the Golan warning the officers and soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) against operating within the 235 square kilometer buffer zone.
In the leaflets, the IDF called any presence of SAA troops with the buffer zone a violation of the 1974 separation of forces agreement.
“To the commanders and personnel of the Syrian military!
Your presence in the buffer zone is a violation of the separation of forces agreement!
We will keep working with an iron fest to thwart any violation of this kind!” one of the leaflets reads.
The leaflets, which were reportedly dropped from drones, bore the eagle insignia of the IDF’s 210th “Bashan” Division. The Bashan is a territorial division in the IDF Northern Command responsible for the front with Syria.
The IDF dropped leaflets over the Syrian-held part of Golan on several occasions in the last few years. However, this was the first time the IDF warned SAA service members against operating within the buffer zone. All previous leaflets contained warnings against collaborating with Lebanese Hezbollah.
The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force is still present in the Golan buffer zone to monitor the ceasefire between Israel and Syria.
The IDF’s threat to the SAA is worrying. Israel may be planning to escalate its attacks on Syrian under the pretext of violating the 1974 agreement. Tel Aviv may go as far as the alleged violations of the agreement as a casus belli to launch a limited ground operation in the buffer zone.
With direct support from the US, Israel has already annexed a large part of the Syrian Golan Heights. Now, it may be planning to occupy what’s left of the region under Syria’s control taking advantage of the war in the country.
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